Pro-independence parties lose majority in Parliament
Ruling alliance broken in the Bureau after ERC votes alongside Socialists to reject delegation of votes by Puigdemont and other suspended JxCat MPs
Pro-independence parties have lost their majority in Parliament after Carles Puigdemont and three other jailed MPs from JxCat refused to name substitutes following a judge decision to suspend them.
The issue has put the pro-independence groups at odds. The two ruling parties, JxCat and ERC, have voted differently in a relevant vote in the Parliament Bureau for the first time this term.
ERC rejected Junts per Catalunya's (JxCat) attempts to avoid the suspension of MPs ruled by the Spanish Supreme Court in the chamber bureau.
With the votes of ERC and the Socialists, the bureau rejected Puigdemont's party delegating votes of the affected MPs including the former Catalan president himself.
In practical terms, this means pro-independence parties, that got 70 MPs in the election, will only be able to cast 61 votes in the chamber, far from the overall majority, set at 68.
Four JxCat MPs, Puigdemont, Jordi Turull, Josep Rull and Jordi Sánchez, will not be allowed to vote. A fifth MP, exiled former minister Toni Comín, doesn't vote either.
On Tuesday morning ERC, JxCat’s partners in government and main allies in the chamber, urged the party to abide by the Spanish Supreme Court ruling, warning of a parliament collapse.
Unlike Puigdemont’s party, ERC conceded to court orders and substituted its suspended MPs, including party leader and former vice president Oriol Junqueras, who is in jail.
At the same time, the Catalan government spokeswoman said that the executive's stability is guaranteed.
Elsa Artadi said President Torra's cabinet assumes the ruling parties cannot always "vote the same" in Parliament.
Letter by Puigdemont and other MPs
In a joint letter from prison and exile, former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and the other suspended JxCat MPs said the idea of designating substitutes doesn't protect their political rights.
"It attempts, in a clumsy way, to mask an openly unfair and seriously anti-democratic decision," they said.
Faced with the Bureau vote against their vote delegation, the MPs said that they "assume the decision" and accept that their voting rights "will no longer be counted."
The MPs announced that they will challenge their suspension to European courts. "We will work to make sure that the violation of the right to political representation and the alteration of the results of the December 21, 2017, election can be assessed by international bodies and international courts," the MPs said. "We'll go to Europe and to the world in order to find the justice that the Spanish State is denying us," they added.
"We are convinced that a majority of 61 seats will allow to maintain the current Government and keep promoting a republican project," they added.
However, they also asked for "respect" regards their decision, saying that the same respect should apply also to other MPs that have decided to designate substitutes.
"Our aim has always been and continues to be to protect the full sovereignty of Parliament and maintain the government majority," they said.